Advancing equity across Oregon, one funding opportunity at a time

When Meyer redesigned our grant programs two years ago, we had a clear vision of the grant investments we would make to accelerate change in Oregon — the changes we believe are necessary to create a place where all Oregonians can be part of vibrant communities they help to shape and where they feel valued, represented and seen. An Oregon where every child has true opportunity to thrive in school and pursue dreams. A place where our amazing natural environment is nurtured and resilient and supports the well-being of our diverse cultures and communities. And an Oregon where every single person has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.

Today, we are so excited to announce the results of our 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity — 193 grant awards, totaling $22.7 million, each of which will carry our vision of change forward in communities throughout Oregon. These grants — made through our Building Community, Equitable Education, Healthy Environment and Housing Opportunities portfolios — will support nonprofits in breaking down inequities through local and statewide policy and systems change. They will support organizations creating affordable housing for people living on low incomes, including many who experience additional types of marginalization and oppression. They will fund a variety of work to build inclusive and diverse communities and to grow organizations where Oregon’s diverse people see themselves reflected at all levels. These grants will also support pathways for people most impacted by decisions to sit at the tables where those decisions are made and to help build wealth in communities that have long experienced income disparities.

The organizations leading this work are inspiring, dedicated and share our vision. We are honored and excited to partner with them.

As we reflect on the grants made, we are pleased that this second round of Meyer’s new Annual Funding Opportunity will:

  • have statewide reach, providing funding to every region in Oregon

  • overwhelmingly benefit people and communities that are marginalized and experience disparities — around 85 percent of grantees have specific strategies to reach one or more of Meyer’s priority populations and the remaining grants will further portfolio goals and strengthen capacity to advance diversity, equity and inclusion for all Oregonians

  • will fund approximately 40 organizations for whom this is their first Meyer grant, and several other new-to-Meyer organizations will receive funds through a collaborative or fiscal sponsor

  • provide capacity-building or operating support to nearly half of grantees.

Take a look at the full AFO list, or if you prefer something more visual, spreadsheets of the 193 grants, broken down by portfolio and goal.

And here’s a look at each portfolio:

Through our Building Community portfolio, we made 66 grants totaling $6.65 million to dismantle inequities, advance equity, increase civic engagement and build inclusive communities through arts and cultures. Funding through this portfolio will support community building in many forms: from a collaborative, led by Neighborworks Umpqua, working to establish a rural advocacy platform to Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s collaborative artist-led projects on tribal reservations that address pressing social issues while sustaining culture to building Virginia Garcia Health Foundation’s work advocating at all levels to ensure health care equity and access for populations who experience barriers. Diversity, equity and inclusion were the common threads through this portfolio. The majority of awards support culturally specific organizations in their work, build connections with and among culturally specific communities, and strengthen internal organizational capacity to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

You can learn about all of our Building Community awards here and stay tuned for portfolio director Dahnesh Medora’s blog about the batch in the next month’s Meyer Mail newsletter.

The first round of funding under our new Equitable Education portfolio includes 49 grants totalling $7.2 million to support work focused on achieving equitable outcomes for Oregon students who experience the greatest educational disparities. These grants include compelling policy and systems change and movement building work, such as a grant to Children’s Institute to engage crucial community leaders in shaping and delivering a statewide education advocacy agenda; funding for Better Together Central Oregon to build an education data system that aligns community and education organizations’ efforts to improve student outcomes in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties; and support for Unite Oregon to train parents in communities of color in Multnomah County’s David Douglas School District in cross-cultural leadership development. We are excited to see the momentum and commitment across Oregon for changing our public education system so that all our young people have the opportunities that a quality education can open up and communities are engaged in shaping the system to best serve their needs and aspirations.

Learn about all our Equitable Education 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity awards here, and read more about this first year’s awards from portfolio director Matt Morton’s blog.

Our 39 Healthy Environment portfolio investments, totaling $3.85 million, simultaneously support healthy natural systems and the health and vitality of all Oregon’s diverse communities. The work funded through these grants comes in many shapes and flavors, all of which will advance environmental equity. In Eastern Oregon’s high desert, the Oregon Natural Desert Association will strengthen partnerships with tribes, including integrating conservation practices that reflect traditional knowledge with science-based practices to conserve and restore ecosystem health. In Portland, a collaborative, led by Ecotrust, will pilot a green workforce development program that recruits and trains African American and Native American individuals for careers in the green workforce. And CUB Educational Fund will build a base of diverse stakeholders to engage in a statewide energy system reform effort designed to increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon and provide consumers with reliable and affordable clean energy. These are just a few examples of the work we are supporting that will contribute to environmental justice, healthy natural systems, an inclusive environmental movement and community well-being across this remarkable state we call home.

More information about the Healthy Environment’s Statewide Program grants can be found in portfolio director Jill Fuglister’s blog and in this awards list.

The 39 awards, totaling about $5 million, made in our Housing Opportunities portfolio reflect our vision for every Oregonian to have a decent, safe and affordable place to call home and our belief that housing — and the stability it offers — helps to build better lives and strengthen communities. Funding is directed to benefit low-income communities, with an additional lens on communities of color, rural communities and other marginalized populations.

This year’s awards will contribute to the creation of 490 units of affordable housing, including many much-needed family-sized units, and preservation of 54 additional units. A grant to the Housing Authority of Washington County for construction of a 120-unit affordable housing project in Hillsboro that is expected to serve a significant percentage of people of color is one example of nine affordable housing capital projects funded.

Our housing grants go beyond construction dollars. Community Alliance of Tenants was awarded an operating support grant to sustain and grow tenant leadership by strengthening programs for education and empowerment of tenants in Southern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and Portland’s Southwest Corridor — a great example of our investments in advocacy and leadership development. And a grant to the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation for a collaborative project to develop a non-subsidized replicable model of affordable housing with health-related and social services for rural older adults in the Columbia River Gorge is one way we are investing in innovative solutions.

Learn more about our Housing Opportunities awards from portfolio director Theresa Deibele’s blog here and see a list of all the Housing Opportunities awards here.

We are so grateful for the leadership and contributions that all the 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity grantees and our many other partners are making to bring us closer to an Oregon where everyone has genuine opportunity to feel valued and thrive.

We will be sharing more information about our 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity awards next month, and we are already preparing for our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity that will open in March.

We anticipate making some changes in our application and guidance based on your feedback with the primary goals of clarifying “what fits” and making the application process even smoother. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our applicant surveys. We appreciate hearing about your experience and your ideas so we can continue to improve our approach to work better for you. As we launch our third round of funding under this program in 2018, we also look forward to connecting with you in the spring through community visits across the state and virtual outreach sessions.

You can stay up-to-date with our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity, other future funding opportunities from Meyer and our outreach plans when you subscribe to our e-newsletter here. Interested in Meyer’s other fall grant awards and other program happenings? Learn about them here.

With continued appreciation,